My daughter has traded her single room with a kitchen and bathroom shared with strangers that intimidated her (she is not the outgoing type) for a two bedroomed house to herself (and her fiancé when he is not studying hard at a University in the middle of Wales). She also has me just a short drive away to offer support when she needs it. The change in lifestyle has made a corresponding change in her happiness and well being. I have had the gratification of being able to help and gained a babysitter and running partner.
For the last couple of days, I have been at the house providing access (and tea) for a couple of chaps who are fitting new double glazed windows. The upstairs is all done and looks fantastic. Rotten window frames and glass dripping with condensation are gone, much like the London room misery. Modern, clean, efficient double glazed units make everything seem much brighter.
It is a lovely little house. Once I got over the fact that a 2 bedroomed end terrace house here in Sussex cost as much as a 4 bedroomed detached house back in Shropshire where we lived previously, I began to really enjoy the whole process of property purchasing. I spent many happy hours on the Rightmove website perusing possibilities. We viewed three of those possibilities and fell in love with one. The house reminded me very much of the first house I ever bought (many years and a husband ago).
I call the twenty years I spent married to my first husband "the missing years". My current husband, the love of my life, was at my first wedding. If fate had aligned itself in a slightly different configuration, he could have been at my wedding as my groom. We could have begun our life together twenty years earlier - experienced buying our first home, starting a family. It didn't. We didn't. I can't regret any of the twists and turns of my life but I also can't help wondering about the missing years. We filled in a big chunk of the missing years when we unexpectedly started a a second family. We joke that we have a 100% extra free life - 100% supporting our grown up children and trying to find time for ourselves, plus 100% meeting the demands of our two growing children and throwing ourselves into family life. Of course that second 100% is not really free - we can get incredibly tired and over stretched - we pay!
Buying the house, so similar to my first starter home, provided another opportunity for a buy one life get one life free experience. It was an electrifying thrill to be handed the keys. We opened the door on a "what could have been" and filled in the missing years with cleaning, decorating, fixing and best of all, sourcing essential furniture on a very tight budget. We achieved an incredible amount in a short space of time so that it would be ready for when my daughter's London lease ran out. We made a home. We made a home then returned to our actual home filled with furniture and memories collected over time. We returned to our actual home feeling a wonderful sense of connectedness and with hearts less justified in their yearning for missing years.
The missing years were not wasted years. My husband and I both lived full lives doing the things we wanted to do - just not together. Our togetherness now seems to make anything possible. We have so much living to do in whatever time the Gods see fit to allow us. If the price is that I sometimes feel tired and over stretched, that is a very small price.